SUPER-COMMUTERS

A framework for designers to solve for problems associated with long commutes in the Bay area.

Brief  /  Identify insights about super-commuters' lifestyle and use the insights to design a product. 


Role  /  Design researcher

Team / Preksha, Design researcher

Timeline  /  4 months

Tools  /  Sketch, XD, Illustrator

PROBLEM

A lot of workers in the Bay Area have an extreme commute,

and it is eating up a huge part of their life. 

15%

Of Bay Area residents have an extreme commute

Source: Vital Signs

Super-commuters in bay area travel for a total of 3 hours a day, which is

30 days a year.

Source: Vital Signs

Source: Vital Signs

RESEARCH GOAL

To learn about super-commuters’ experiences, behaviours and needs, and discover opportunities around their well-being.

 
METHODOLOGY
Interview

10 participants

 

They travel for over 3 hours in total for work every day.

Online survey

34 participants

 

Boston, New York, Alameda, Oakland, Palo Alto, Tiburon, California, USA, Hong Kong, Mumbai

Limitation

25+ Rejections 

Super-commuters with children were not willing to interview.

KEY QUESTIONS ASKED

Our focus is not only on what's happening during the commute, but also the life that surrounds the commute. View full discussion guide

  • What do you feel, think, see, and do during commute?

  • Use 3 adjectives to describe your experience before, during, and after your commute. 

  • Are there any trade-offs for such a long commute?

SORTING DATA INTO THEMES

Sorting information into 4 big themes - behaviours, motivation, needs and opinion. 

Further clustering them into smaller themes, such as time management, routine...etc. 

Final rearrangement of themes according to the emerging insights.

TURNING THEMES TO FRAMEWORKS

 

FINAL INSIGHTS

Screenshot 2019-09-02 at 10.01.15 PM.png

They spend a lot of time and energy to plan their life around the long commute.

If I take one extra minute to think about what to wear, I will miss my train. So I need to pick my outfit the night before.

The commute comes with a trade off of their social life, productivity or self-care time.

90% of super-commuters believes their productivity, self-care or social life is being compromised. 

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Super-commuters wish to create meaning with the commute time.

I can pull out my laptop and work, it’s a more efficient use of time if I can’t be home.

OPPORTUNITY STATEMENT

How might we support super-commuters to create meaning within limited space and time?

 

SOLUTIONS

Screenshot 2019-09-16 at 1.38.29 AM.png

Advocate remote-work friendly policy

Promotes the concept of recording commute time as work time.

Super-commuters could focus on collaborative task during working hours, and individual tasks during commute.  

Caltrain Business - mobility for work and wellness 

The bottom compartment of Caltrain Business would become a workspace. The upper level would be designed for commuters to practice self-care, for example meditation sessions would be offered. 

Screenshot 2019-09-16 at 1.38.35 AM.png

CALTRAIN BUSINESS

HOW IT WORKS

Defining the content structure of verse

Storyboard

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Booking the seats

Working on Caltrain

Time-logging

Screenshot 2019-09-27 at 2.54.44 PM.png

Back-to-side folding table 

arrangement

The arrangement is more private comparing to traditional side-by-side seating

 

It also allows train company to maximize its capacity.

 

WHAT I LEARNED

Always check my bias. 

 

I made a lot of assumptions about the lives of super-commuters along the way. During the interviews, I thought that the participants would spend a lot of time complaining about the inconvenience of their commutes.

 

But the truth is, they are making the most of every minute in their day to cope with the side-effects of their commute. It made me realised the importance of keeping an open mind during research.

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